Constitutional rights of detained West African violated, lawyer says

Andrew O'Kola claims his client has been held without charge since February 15
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By Latrishka Thomas

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A lawyer who represents a West African man who was recently detained on suspicion of fraud has filed an application before the court claiming that several of his client’s constitutional rights have been violated.

Andrew O’Kola filed a writ of habeas corpus yesterday to force the police to produce the individual before the court to make an inquiry concerning his or her detention.

The individual in question is said to have been held since February 15 – much more than the 48 hours outlined in the constitution.

 He says his client has also been forced to suffer inhumane conditions such as sleeping on cold concrete.

The lawyer refers to the act as “egregious” and told Observer that he is aware of at least one senior police officer who has the responsibility to ensure that someone who is detained is charged within a short time has simply played lip service to that right.

O’Kola said regardless of where a person is from, they should be treated in accordance with the law.

The arrest of the aforementioned individual follows reports last week from a number of Africans stranded in Antigua who said they had given money to a fellow African residing at Dickenson Bay to get a charter flight back to Nigeria.

According to reports, a 39-year-old Nigerian man and his 32-year-old Cameroonian roommate were taken into custody after their Crosbies residence was searched.

However, only one is said to still be in custody.

Police allegedly found cash in both US and EC currencies, credit cards, and other documents including passports.

O’Kola contends that his client is a “decent upstanding person who has done nothing wrong”.

The court is expected to rule on the application today.

More than 900 people from West Africa arrived into Antigua via charter flights between November and January. Many of them are Cameroonians escaping civil war back home. Government said earlier this month that over 600 remained in the country.

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